Bartender’s Best Friend

With all the awesome new vodka flavors out there (CAKE! WHIPPED CREAM!!! CHOCOLAT RAZBERI!!!!! FLUFFED MARSHMALLOW!!!!!!!!), I’m amazed no one is talking about what surely must be the best friend to any aspiring bottle-juggling-mixologist-in-training. Bitters? No way. Too old school. I’m talking the ultimate flavor enhancer for your cocktail creations. Something that’s smooth and sweet and likely to cause women to swoon in anticipation. Ahh, yeah, break out the Coffee-Mate! What? You’ve never made a Coffee-Mate-ini? If not that, what about sneaking a little bit of vodka or whiskey into your morning Coffee-Mated coffee flavored beverage? No??? Who are you? C’mon, they’ve already got Amaretto and Irish Creme and Eggnog ready to go; you’re halfway there before you even start.

OK, I’ll be honest. I hate the stuff. You will never ever ever find a bottle of Coffee-Mate in my house. The ingredient list is enough to scare the bejeezus out of anyone opposed to consuming large quantities of chemically-modified foodstuffs (actual example: WATER, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, AND LESS THAN 2% OF NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE)**, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, CELLULOSE GEL, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAGEENAN, DEXTROSE). Delicious, right? The whole idea of flavoring your coffee with chemically-enhanced “creamer” is antithetical to the whole notion of enjoying COFFEE. Enough ranting, though, let’s get to the cocktails! (There is an actual cocktail at the end of this rant.)

Milk and cream are not entirely foreign to the cocktail bar. There’s the White Russian, of course, and the Irish Coffee. Those are both acceptable uses of dairy behind the bar, if you ask me, but the slope gets very slippery after that, once you head into the land of the Screaming Orgasm (the drink, that is). I did, however, discover another acceptable usage of dairy, particularly the Coffee-Mate “almost dairy” type: when your friends whip up a batch of espresso-bean-infused bourbon during a spring break-induced fit of ingeniuty and invite you to figure out what to do with it. Sure, you can go elegant and play around the robust coffee with aromatic bitters and nut-based liqueurs and even certain dark beers boiled down to a syrup. Or, you can go crass and commercial. Espresso-infused bourbon… meet Fat Free French Vanilla Naturally and Artificially Flavored Coffee Creamer and a few cubes of ice. Magic. You can thank me later. And don’t be surprised next time you show up at your favorite bar and there’s a big shelf full of Coffee-Mate beside the Italian Amaro and Carpano Antica and all that jazz. Just hope they don’t start juggling the bottles, that stuff makes a mess.

4 Replies to “Bartender’s Best Friend”

  1. Espresso-infused bourbon? Good times! Please do elaborate. As to what you did with it…I’ll keep my opinions to myself (although I’m sure it was tasty in a guilt-ridden kind of way). 🙂

  2. David, a friend made the infusion, I’ll let him elaborate if he cares to, but will give you the highlights – it was Maker’s Mark sitting on some crushed (not ground) espresso beans (don’t know exactly what type/roast) for six hours. The coffee flavor came through VERY strongly, surprisingly so given just six hours infusion. There are much better “mixologists” out there who could probably work wonders with it, but I just went cheap and easy with the Coffee-Mate. It actually worked surprisingly well, like you say, in a “guilty pleasure” kind of way.

  3. As Thirsty said, we used about one cup of espresso beans (not sure what type/the beach town we were in had one coffee shop that didn’t “sell” espresso beans, but gave us a handful on the side). After lightly crushing the beans with a frying pan, we poured a .750 of Maker’s over the beans. We planned on letting it sit over night, but after 6 hours we checked and thankfully pulled out the beans. The coffee was really strong, almost too much so for me. We tried various concoctions during the week, with not much success. Thirsty’s idea was the best. Though, you’d only want to drink it in small doses.

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